Disgruntled feminists formed the Equal Rights Party in 1884 when both the Republicans and Democrats continually ignored women’s concerns. Presidential candidate Belva Lockwood declared that, “It is quite time that we had our own party; our own platform, and our own nominees,” even if they couldn’t vote for them. With the exception of the territory of Wyoming, it was against the law for women to vote in every state and territory in the union.
Women’s suffrage, of course, was a central feature of the new party’s platform, along with “equal and exact justice for all citizens, regardless of color, sex or nationality.”
Polls showing that women are more likely than men to favor a reduction in military spending wouldn’t surprise Lockwood, who called for mandatory, binding arbitration of all disputes between nations. “War is a relic of barbarism belonging to the past,” she insisted.
Economic security and financial justice lead the concerns of women voters today, who might enjoy casting their ballot for the Equal Rights party’s platform of increased wages, government control of transportation and communication, and an end to monopoly, “the tendency of which is to make the rich richer, and the poor poorer.”
Lockwood never made it to the White House. “Reforms are slow, but they never go backwards,” she reflected. “Their originators may die, but the reform will live to bless millions yet unborn.”
As we approach the New York centennial of women’s suffrage in 2017 with the possibility of the first woman presidential candidate of a major party, Lockwood provides a lens through which to explore the ongoing creation of democracy in our country.
The format is an informal story-telling presentation followed by engagement with the audience designed to draw out their interpretation, insights, and contemporary connections.
NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FOR BOOKINGS THROUGH THE PUBLIC SCHOLARS PROGRAM.